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Mainstream Media, Propaganda, & Spin

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As the News Corp. drama unfolds I find myself wondering why Americans have permitted the corporate takeover of our free press.  Ladies and Gentlemen this is nothing new!  For over two decades organizations who have followed our free press have also warned, reported vital information, and provided educational material.  If we close our eyes and simply believe whatever our Government states we are complacent in our duties of governing.

How much of the pie does News Corporation own? You will likely going to be surprised!

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Written by James J. Pond

July 17, 2011 at 1:18 AM

The Greyhound Bus: Lake Charles, LA – Jacksonville, FL

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05.15.11 2:50 PM– Thanks to some quick thinking from Linda Ramirez my ride from the Bicycle Superstore to the Greyhound bus station was without any glitches. I boarded the bus and started thinking about all the nice people I had met in Lake Charles. I don’t know how I managed to connect with so many nice people in such a very short period of time (less than 24 hours).

05.16.11 8:50 AM- I arrived at the Greyhound Bus Station in Jacksonville, FL. I have to say that the Greyhound experience was anything but enjoyable. It makes me wonder what people from other parts of the world must think about our mass transportation. It was only by luck that for most of the trip I had the pleasure of sitting next to Maria Cristina Carrasquilla who is from Columbia and working on her PhD at the University of Florida (Gainesville). As for Greyhound buses in the future… I will definitely try to avoid that experience at whatever cost. My friend picked me up at the bus station and we had breakfast out before returning to her apartment.

05.17.11 Assisted my friend in moving + Bicycle Repairs

05.18.11 Assisted my friend in moving + Bicycle Repairs

05.19.11 Met with my friend and her friends at Jacksonville Beach and enjoyed sun and small talk. Afterwards, we traveled a short distance to pick-up my bicycle and my friend dropped me off at the Comfort Inn Jacksonville Beach, FL. Miles: 00 Smile

05.20.11 Comfort Inn Jacksonville Beach, FL. Miles: 00 Smile

05.21.11 Jacksonville Beach, FL. to Yulee, FL. Miles: 39.5

05.22.11 Yulee, FL. to Folkston, GA Miles: 58

05.23.11 Folkston, GA. 00 Miles Smile

05.24.11 Folkston, GA. 00 Miles Smile

05.25.11 Folkston, GA  00 Miles

05.26.11 Folkston, GA. to Patterson, GA Miles: 56- This is a remote area with campgrounds and lodging closures throughout the 56 mile route. My plan is to arrange a place to stay with the locals in Patterson; however, if I can find shelter earlier than Patterson I will take it. The towns that I will be traveling through are: Atkinson (population unknown), Hortense (population unknown), and Patterson (population 627). In the event that no shelter can be located I will not have time to travel much longer before sunset. Additional information will be provided via email to key persons e.g. local police, sheriff, and other potential resources. My phone service will likely have a signal (thank you t-mobile) so I may call using pay phone or borrowed phone. Wish me luck!

Photographs for this portion will be uploaded at earliest convenience.

Written by James J. Pond

May 24, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Posted in Journal Entry

Journal Entry: 05.03.11- 05.14.11

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05.03.11 Richards, TX to Pumpkin, TX. Miles: 36-   A really nice breeze and clear skies made my trip from Richards, TX. @ Checkpoint Harley to Pumpkin, TX.  Some of my travel was through Sam Houston National Forest and the cool breeze and tall pines made this ride all the more enjoyable.  I pulled into the Ranger Station not long after I had crossed the bridge spanning Lake Conroe.  I signed the log at the ranger station. The personnel were kind and I was glad they let me fill my water bottles  I stopped for lunch in New Waverly in a little restaurant called the Waverly House.

05.04.11 Pumpkin, TX to Coldspring, TX. Miles: 10- This was a short ride to set up for a long trip. I stayed at the San Jacinto Inn (no internet available).  I still have not really identified a good pace for myself.  I spoke with a local sheriff about crime Coldspring.  It was no surprise that methamphetamines were a big problem in the area.  During 2006 I discovered that Wisconsin was experiencing the problem; however, according to the sheriff in Coldspring the criminals are now using mobile labs.  This technique makes it much more difficult for local law enforcement officers to make an arrest.

05.05.11 Coldspring, TX to Shepherd, TX Miles: 15- As I entered Shepherd I stopped by City Hall to learn something about shelter for the evening since there are no campsites.  I had the ladies laughing so hard they couldn’t answer the incoming calls.  One of the local students told me that she would be marching in this years Thanksgiving Parade in New York City.  I ended up staying at the Americas Best Value Inn & Suites [no military discount and I believe its name has changed]. The rate was reasonable room was above average.  The next morning I made my way to Happy Days Restaurant for some breakfast.  One of the regulars ended up paying for my breakfast and it was only after he left that the waitress notified me.  I have found that many people are really interested in my journey and random acts of kindness seem to be a common event in these parts of Texas.

05.06.11 Shepherd, TX to Kountze, TX Miles: 49- This is my high mileage to date! There were no campgrounds available in Kountze so I checked into the Super 8 Motel [military discount]. The staff was very nice and the room rate was reasonable.  I spent two days at the Super 8 because I needed to!

05.07.11 Kountze, TX Miles: 00- I took a day off and relaxed.

05.08.11 Kountze, TX to Silsbee, TX Miles: 9.5- Short day to set up a reasonable mileage to cross the Texas boarder and into Merryville, LA.  I still need to gradually increase the daily miles I make because the area is somewhat remote and I don’t want to find myself riding in the darkness and turning into some animals steak.  In Silsbee there was a campground but locals told me that it usually has very loud parties.  I chose to stay at the Pinewood Inn [no military discount] room was less than average and staff was missing in action.

05.09.11 Silsbee, TX to Merryville, LA Miles: 55- I managed to gain some confidence during this trip and completed my longest single day mileage!  It was a long day and I managed meet the nice people at the Merryville Historical Society who provided a tent site, shower, and bathroom.  The Historical Society does not require donations but will accept donations.  I didn’t see anyone from the Historical Society after the first night.  I’m going to have to mail my donation to Merryville City Hall.  I spent four nights in Merryville and much of the time I was trying to get information on the flooding along the Mississippi River.

05.10.11 Merryville, LA Miles: 00

05.11.11 Merryville, LA Miles: 00

05.12.11 Merryville, LA Miles: 00 Merryville, LA Miles: 00 Leaving Merryville tomorrow morning with a plan to board a Greyhound Bus to Jacksonville, FL on 05.15.11

05.13.11 Merryville, LA to DeRidder, LA Miles: 22- Checked into the Skippers Inn after searching several other alternatives.  I managed to find a barber for a great haircut and tomorrow I intend go Lake Charles, LA to avoid any flooding that may exist in the vicinity of St. Francisville.016011012

05.14.11 DeRidder, LA to Lake Charles, LA Miles: 49- Got a great start in the morning and enjoyed the cool breeze and great road all the way south to Lake Charles.  I had to be at the Greyhound Bus Station before 2:50 PM when the bus was scheduled to depart. When I approached Moss Bluff there was bridge that was just not safe for me to cross (Calcasieu River) with my trailer.  I doubled back to a parking lot and found a beautiful red truck and the owner arranged transportation over the bridge and the rest of the way to the Greyhound Bus.  Unfortunately, there was a problem at Greyhound.  The bus driver would not allow my bicycle onto the bus without it being broken down and packed on a bus.

018020
I had to get my money back on the ticket I had purchased and find shelter to ensure that I could get on the bus the next day.  I contacted a bicycle shop about a mile away who told me that his shop could make it happen. It seemed that everything was in place but I found out that my High School Sweetheart, Linda Ramirez managed to arrange for someone to pick me up at the bicycle shop and deliver me and my equipment to the Greyhound Bus Station!  She managed to accomplish this by searching Facebook for anyone in Lake Charles, LA.  I scoffed at the idea as she was explaining what she had done.  Not five minutes later someone called me to confirm that my need for a ride was real. The ride happened!

I went to the mall and bought a two pairs of socks.  As I walked back to the hotel I discovered “My Place American Pub” and decided to have an ice cold beer. Next to me were a couple of great guys who had worked as contractors on the BP Oil Spill Cleanup…..

023024028 028
The couple pictured with me paid for everything including my hotel room.  I have to say thanks to all of the folks who helped me enjoy a great evening filled with some fun and laughs.  I especially want to thank all for the memory and random acts of kindness!

Written by James J. Pond

May 24, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Posted in Journal Entry

When Will They Ever Learn!

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012I woke up this morning  at around 5:00 AM.  It is now my third night in Merryville, LA.  For the past couple of days I have been trying to gain enough information regarding the flooding along the Mississippi River to make an intelligent decision to continue eastbound.

The Adventure Cycling route map through Louisiana has me traveling alongside some of the winding, bending, Mississippi River until I reach St. Francisville, LA and cross the mighty Mississippi River by bridge.  To complicate my decision making process even further, is the fact that I have no clue of the Louisiana All The Worlds A Stage! My tent and quarters.

spillway system.  What I do know is that the Army Corp of Engineers has announced that the Morganza spillway will likely open its gate.  Should the Morganza spillway open it would be the first time 1973 and would reportedly send a torrent into the Atchafalaya River and threaten a 100-mile stretch all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

I wonder why there is so little information regarding road closures.  It would seem logical that officials could predict which roads would be closed and how long before those roads would be available for travel.  It could be displayed on the internet for crying out loud.  I have read that officials in Louisiana were frustrated that so many people were calling and panicking.  Well you won’t convince me that Louisiana has learned very much about contingency planning and communications.  People panic when officials fail to do their job!

In the mean time, I will continue my quest for information.  It looks as though my best option is to bicycle 47 miles to Lake Charles, LA and then take a bus to St. Augustine, FL.

Written by James J. Pond

May 12, 2011 at 1:44 AM

Posted in Journal Entry

Journal Entry: 04.21.11–05.03.11

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04.21.11 Navasoto, TX Miles: 20 – I checked out of the Best Western Inn and into the Checkpoint Harley which took me through the towns of Anderson and finally Richards, TX.  I had heard about Checkpoint Harley from some other bicyclists and knew that they had camping and lodging available.  The route along State Hwy 90 and County road 149 was a relief from the ups and downs that I encountered from my start in Kyle, TX.  I completed the 20 miles to Richards, TX in a relatively short period of time.

About two miles away from Checkpoint Harley I met Doris who stopped her truck on the road to see if I was headed to Checkpoint Harley.  She explained that an emergency had taken place  at the ranch but offered to relieve me of some of the weight on my bicycle.  I gladly threw my trailer bag into the back of her truck and she departed swiftly.  Later I discovered that she had rescued some baby birds that had nested in their barn.

When I arrived at Checkpoint Harley Doris had already removed my heavy bag from her truck and taken it inside. A little bit later I met the team of Ernie and Doris (husband and wife) and discussed the camping rate which was $16.00 a night for camping and $30.00 for lodging.  I let them know that I intended to stay at the ranch for 9 days and Ernie was excited.  My first night was spent on the kitchen floor but the next morning it was announced that I should move to one of their lodges at the $16.00 rate.  I was surprised and extremely grateful.

072
My room is the white door on left. Center door is common kitchen.

The room has a bed, a heater, air conditioning, a sink, and a small refrigerator.  In the picture above you are unable to view the second room because the men’s outhouse is blocking it.  Between the two outhouses you can see a portion of the men and women’s separate showers.  The outhouses are clean and both connected to septic tanks that eliminates any noxious odors.  The kitchen area has a large refrigerator, stove/oven, sink, pots, pans, microwave, and utensils.  In short, it’s almost like home but surrounded with wide open spaces. And since it is a ranch you’ll notice that there are plenty of cattle.

“Checkpoint Harley provided me with learning opportunities!”
-James J. Pond

Ernie and Doris built there own field of dreams and people are indeed coming.  My bicycle journey had placed me smack dab in the middle of their dream.  I became visually stimulated by all of the life that surrounded me: hummingbirds, bluebirds, chickens, bulls, donkeys, geese, horses, cows, goats, guineas, bobcats, coyotes, and more.  On day two I wanted to work and learn more about this lifestyle!  Ernie and Doris took me under their wing and let me- a mere bicycling city slicker participate in their world.  I can assure you it wasn’t as easy as one might expect.

Ernie is now retired from the U.S. Army as a paramedic.  He served in Somalia and Desert Storm and although he can sometimes come across as hard around the edges, deep down inside he possess a soft heart.  Doris was born and raised in Germany and the two met while Ernie was stationed in Heidelberg.  The couple married and have no children except their pets and livestock.  When they showed me their wedding announcement and photographs it was obvious to me that they were still very much in love.

010053
Ernie and Doris sharing a brief moment together.      Doris during her early childhood in Germany.

Doris manages well and works even harder. The morning starts early as she makes breakfast and lunch for Ernie.  Ernie makes a short commute to work and at the days end returns to the ranch and works some more.  While Ernie is at work Doris tends to the needs of the ranch often long into the night. Both are diligent in their efforts.

Ernie is well respected in his community. The first time I rode with him into town to pick up supplies his people skills became obvious.  Everyone greeted him with smiles and he always managed to get folks laughing.  We had traveled to the Navasota, TX. John Deere store to pick up a ton of feed for the cattle.  Ernie in his typical fashion approached the counter and told the young man behind the counter that the last time he had been in the store for feed two bags of feed had been replaced by two bags of concrete.  Ernie had caught the young man off guard and the store manager, along with others were beginning to gather around.  After an eruption of laughter the store manager reminded the young man (the owners son) that they did not sell concrete in the store.  The owners son replied “Oh great, I will never hear the end of this story from my dad”.

What did I do at Checkpoint Harley?  Well I helped move and store a ton of those bags of feed, stacked some bails of hey in the barn, bottle fed a longhorn calf, helped build a platform to store more hay, assisted with moving cattle, attended a cattle auction, and met two wonderful people on a ranch that I will never forget.  Ernie will be the first to say that I just got in the way (likely true) and he has tagged me an “Obama lover” (among other things) but most of all I have laughed with him and enjoyed exchanging verbal blows. Doris has taught me much about the hard work and long hours. She has read about Temple Grandin before the movie was ever produced. She respects the cattle and likewise, the cattle respect her.  She can move her cattle easily because of the respect she has shown the cattle.

011 018
Longhorn calf feeding.                                           Doris escorting Longhorn calf to barn.
Ernie takes his cattle to veterinarians for inoculations, tags, and fly relief.  He is permitted to complete the shots on his own and that saves his ranch a little extra money.  He grew up on a ranch and it is apparent that he is very knowledgeable at what he does.

016 045
Ernie prepares inoculation. He is fast + thorough.            It takes only seconds.
058047
He may be old but he always cleans up his mess.                  Fresh tag inserted.
I learned that working on a ranch requires dedication and long hours of relatively hard work.  There is something to do every day.  The animals must be fed and taken care of especially during the drought conditions that have been self evident since I’ve been traveling these parts.  I sure hope that rain will come soon.

I will always remember when a bull and cow found their way out of the pen.  It was sort of scary because if they had run into the road an automobile may have collided with one of the animals.  Ernie had me running in one direction while he ran in another.  There was a moment when the bull approached me and wondering what I would do I looked up and Ernie was chatting with his friend.  He realized that that the situation was contained but I could see him grinning and I’d almost bet he was saying something like. “that city slicker doesn’t know that the bull and cow will always run to where the other cows are”.  That is what cattle do and that was a good learning experience.  It was an exciting time for this city slicker.

I have to say that Ernie and Doris made my stay here so enjoyable.  I love them both.  I have to post another picture of Doris, a peacock we found on a county road, and Ernie as he tags a cow. Or was that a bull?

052020006

Written by James J. Pond

May 3, 2011 at 6:41 AM

Posted in Journal Entry